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Mario Klingemann, Memories of Passersby I (2018)Courtesy of Sotheby’s

AI artwork flops at auction, robot apocalypse not here yet

Humans – 1, machines – 0

We’ll have to wait a while until AI is able to outdo artists as Sotheby’s first auction of machine-made surrealist portraits sells for an anti-climatic amount. The work, made by Mario Klingemann, an innovator in AI art, sold for £32,000 without the buyer’s fees.

While that might be enough to cure all of your financial woes – in the art world that isn’t the impressive price you might expect for a groundbreaking item. Entitled Memories of Passerby, the face melted image is the first AI piece to sell in Europe. An algorithm-generated portrait in New York previously sold for $432,500 comparatively.

According to ArtNet, Klingemann has dubbed the movement “neurography” where neural networks generate an endless array of imaginary portraits which is then presented on a two-screen installation. After the New York sale it’s gained a lot of hype and as one of the first to pioneer the practice, Klingemann was probably hoping to match. The upper estimate for the work was £40,000 without the buyer’s fee and sold for exactly that price with the fee included.

As part of the Barbican’s 2019 season, there will be an immersive exhibit exploring the evolution of the relationship between humans and techAI: More Than Human examines the ethical issues of AI, looks at where it will fit into our lives, and features an installation from Bristol band Massive Attack.

In the meantime, read up on more AI art with this investigation into Ai-Da, the world’s first humanoid who can draw without human input.